There are many needs specifically to women’s health that can be assisted, such as menstruation, contraception, hormonal fluctuations, and menopause. Some women’s health needs will be more specific, such as those relating to fertility, pregnancy and post-natal care or pelvic floor disorders. Others will require proactive steps to buffer against conditions that the general female population is at most risk of, with heart disease, stroke, and cancer at the top of that list.
The needs of women’s health will change and present specific challenges throughout life, and your doctor can be there to assist the journey.
A Cervical Screening Test is more accurate in determining the health of the cervix and is required less often than a Pap Smear. Pap Smears are currently being phased out in favour of the Cervical Screening Test that looks for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease, that usually causes no symptoms and goes away by itself however, it can sometimes cause serious illness.
Some HPV types cause warts while others may cause various types of cancer, including cervical cancer. As one of the most preventable cancers, having routine cervical screening provides the best protection against cervical cancer. Your GP can provide more information and a great resource is the National Cervical Screening Program is available here.
Pregnancy & Family Planning
Many factors come into play with pregnancy and family planning. It will generally begin with a discussion relating to family and medical history along with an assessment that may highlight pre-existing medical conditions.
In preconception, interventions can be put in place to optimise health, including that of the partner. There is much evidence that doing so improves both sort and long term outcomes for mothers and babies. Your GP has a key role in assisting to identify preconception risks and to make informed decisions about planning or avoiding pregnancy.
For those planning pregnancy health and diet should be a focal point prior to and in the early stages of, pregnancy. This may include a folic acid supplement in the preconception period, a decrease in pre-pregnancy body mass index for those who are obese through exercise and diet, or strict control of blood glucose levels for diabetics.
However, if pregnancy is something you would rather avoid, then there are many contraceptive options available, be they implants, barriers, or pills. There are longer-term methods of contraception available such as tubal ligation or vasectomy, where a referral can be obtained by your GP.
More detail regarding planning a pregnancy or fertility concerns can be discussed with your GP in a consultation, as can your contraceptive needs.
Menopause advice and management
For many women, the start of hormonal changes begins in the mid to late forties or early fifties. Depending on the symptoms that present and health-related concerns a woman presents with, the course of action will vary. Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms experienced by women during menopause, but may also include anxiety, a lower libido, poor sleep, and memory.
Before these symptoms impact on your quality of life, a GP can address how best to manage them, be that changes to your diet, lifestyle or the consideration of medication or treatment. During a consultation, a health assessment may need to be undertaken, as this can allow underlying health issues to be incorporated into the management of menopause.
Common Women’s Health Screenings
As part of any healthy habits, routine scheduling of health screening has the potential to detect potential health problems early. When a disease is detected early it can prevent complications and improve quality of life.
Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose tests and screening for bone osteoporosis or cancer of the colon, cervix, and breast are some examples. Checking with your GP at which stages of life and how often to conduct these tests or screens, means that they can be planned just like any other health and fitness routine.
For example, it is recommended to have Mammograms every two years after the age of 50. If there is any family history of other problems or symptoms you may require other tests than those health checks for women listed here.
For a consultation with a GP regarding any of the services listed above please see our appointments page or contact our friendly reception staff on 1300 250 815.